Will Salyards
Leadership Coaching and Mentoring

Will Salyards, PhD Blog

Life, Career, Leadership

Who Are You Talking With

Who are you telling your stuff ? Should you? Isn’t it a weakness (it’s probably helpful to appreciate that confession isn't only for moral problems but is, at a real level, telling your story to someone who has an interest in you)? The notion of confession isn’t new to me. But now that I have left the pastorate I am seeing it in an entirely different light. I think it began with my own. It was in a monthly meeting with a group of colleagues who are my friends, a meeting purposefully formed for us to be "real," that I confessed. The thing I confessed to was being me: my sense of failure and my anger at becoming obscure. Here and then later I was able to unpack motivations and values that were literally driving my life into a growing ball of frustration. But it began because I spoke up. Could telling someone your secrets help you? I hope to convince you that it can. Here’s why.

Five Reasons You Should Be Talking with Someone

1.We all have a shadow self

Sacred text refers to our shadow as another nature. It is the things we’ve done, thought, or said that we loathe, that are beneath us. Have any of those? Often the actions are summarized with "I can't believe I..." and can produce feelings of guilt or denial. It could be the deal that needed a little extra to close and you provided the “extra” in the form of a bribe, a lie, a theft or... Like I said, it’s a shadow, not what we consider the substance of our person. Telling someone about it – yes, it can be embarrassing - removes us from denial to truth. And truth sets us free.

2.To affirm we belong

When we talk with a trusted confidant it helps settle the disparity between the person we are and the one life needs us to be. Does that sound too squishy? Think about it this way: if your personality and habits drive you to excel at all costs and your esteem needs require you to be "on top," though likely very good at what you do, still, in the greater scheme of life you could be limited in your service. For that matter “service” may not even be in your vocabulary. In my case, I was in a service profession and at some level served humanity daily. Yet the habits and practices developed to fortify a growing personality defeated the service I wished to provide. Admitting that my strengths had become weaknesses didn't push me farther from people but brought me closer. It helped me see that I was "one of " instead of “apart from.”

3. To be reminded that we’re not alone

Talking about the deeper matters of our person is to communicate at the level of the soul. It is to be heard and it’s important that we’re heard. This kind of conversation affirms us as nothing else can.

4.To get straight the difference between guilt and shame

Feeling guilty is to say "I did something bad" whereas feeling shamed is to say, "I am bad." Confessing can help us sort through the difference and release guilt.

5. Talking about our weaknesses identifies us with others

We’re not unique after all. Carl Jung said it this way, "There would appear to be a conscience in mankind which severely punishes everyone who does not somehow and at some time, at whatever cost to his virtuous pride, cease to defend and assert himself, and instead confess himself fallible human." Talking with someone who cares about you is a healing balm.

Where To Begin 1. Accept that because you talk with someone at a deeper level doesn't mean you’re broken or immoral. Life needs talking through too.

2. Find your "Sanctioned" hearer. A sanctioned hearer isn't necessarily a minister or priest but a confidante, someone who will listen without judging you.

3. Anticipate being restored to the fellowship of honesty. Sometimes the only person who doesn't know we’re fallible is ourselves. Talking with a confidant brings us to truthfulness.